by Will Oates
For most of the 80s I was totally addicted. I couldn’t conquer my addiction, and I didn’t really want to. It was a fantastical groovy trip every time I revisited it. The colors, the sounds, the rush. Many didn’t understand my addiction, but there were others who were into the the epic scene I was taken in by. If you were born in the mid 70s or 80s you, like me, may have tried this drug and were addicted too. You are probably also blown away when people tell you that they haven’t even tried it or, if they have tried it, they didn’t find it appealing. Of course the drug I speak of is, was, and shall be Star Wars. It was giant space cruisers knocking each other back and forth with laser bolts. It was people saying things I didn’t understand like “kessel run,” “parsecs,” “S-foils.” It was guys with names like Wedge, Porkins, Lando and Jabba. There were X-Wings, Y-Wings, Tie Fighters, Star Destroyers and of course the Falcon. And there were midichorians…..OK maybe not the last one so much, but you know what I am talking about if you were hip to the scene.
There has always been something about the original Star Wars movies that resonates with my soul. I am not by any means a total prequel hater. They had their moments, although they do pale in comparison. I think being raised in a Christian home, in a small midwest farm town with one blinking red light, I could relate in a big way to many of the classic themes and characters that Star Wars brought forth in a new appealing way. It is a classic story, nothing particularly new. A kid from the backwater goes out to win the ultimate battle of good vs. evil and learns valuable lessons along the way. It clicked with me. Of course as a kid I thought Han Solo was so cool- he had a cool dog, cool ride, cool gun, cool smirk, and said cool stuff like- “don’t get cocky kid,” “flying through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops” or “one thing’s for sure we’re all gonna be a lot thinner.” I wanted to be that smooth, but realistically I was probably more like Luke. Clueless, awkward, frustrated, and sometimes whiny but eager for something bigger. I still think Han is the coolest, but Luke had to learn many of the lessons I had to learn- patience, confidence, trust in a power outside of himself, love for friends and family, and just finding his way to maturity. Luke had the biggest transformation from New Hope to Jedi. As I have matured and continue to mature, I see that change in myself. I strive to learn more and become a better person. I still haven’t mastered my own lightsaber or used the force to get the remote, but I am growing up and still have a lot to learn on my life journey. Now I understand life is a journey and there will be successes and failures.
As much as I related to Luke, I was terrified of Vader. He was and continues to be the ultimate bad guy. My dad hung Star Wars lobby cards in my room as a kid. As much as I wanted them to be there at bedtime, I couldn’t handle Vader looking down at me as he surveyed the carnage on Tantive IV. I gave into my fear and the stills had to be taken down. I was like the guys on the star destroyer that were curiously watching Vader force choke a commander but quickly scurried away when it was over. He was mysterious and commanding, but you couldn’t look away. No one could talk back to him except for some reason Boba Fett, Moff Tarkin and the Emperor. I always wondered why that was, but that’s a question for a different day. Vader’s journey is as important as Luke’s. A man so lost he forgot who he was, but the love of his son brought him back. I can’t relate to being that lost but I do know I constantly fail and love brings me back.
There are many other characters and life lessons that come from Star Wars for me but growing up, love and redemption are the ones that always ring true. I treasure the Star Wars films and will continue to do so. They have this uncanny ability to bring people together, and I think that is ultimately what I love so much about them. I’ve stood in unbearable lines at two Star Wars Celebrations in Indianapolis but gabbing and joking with fellow fans made the wait worthwhile. At college, my good friend Noelle begged and begged the pimple faced usher to let us into the press screening of Star Wars Special Edition a night early. He finally relented, we got in, I got to see New Hope on the big screen for the first time and she promptly fell asleep. I got to go the next night and see it again with a theater full of fellow fans from Milligan College and it was amazing. There are so many other fond memories of Star Wars and friends. I can’t wait to further share my Star Wars adventures with my 2 year old son and my daughter. I hear Episode VII may have a major young female character; I hope she can relate. My son Liam has a blanket from Celebration Europe with the A-Z’s of Star Wars. We’re working the characters- so far we have Vader, Chewbacca, D2, and Trooper down. He’s my padawan and I hope he finds as many great friends and great times in name of Star Wars as I have. I could continue on with memories but I will end with this this quote from one of my favorite bands Gaelic Storm. They sum up my Star Wars experience the best, “if good times were dollars I would be a millionaire” If I had a buck for every great Star Wars friend or experience I’ve had, I’d be rich. The good thing is that I’m not like Han in this respect “if money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.” In the end even Han realized it was more about friends than it was the payoff.
Will and I met at Milligan. We have two very strong bonds: Star Wars and intramural softball. We were on the same team for a couple of years and while I don’t want to toot my own horn, the Quaker Oats were pretty good. As I plotted out what I was going to do in recognition of Star Wars MONTH, I knew I needed to have Will share his story. As you can see, I wasn’t wrong. Thanks, Will, for sharing your story!
If you, dear reader, have a story to tell about your Star Wars experience, I’d love to hear it! Shoot me an email and we’ll get the ball rolling!